Reflection Blog

April 27, 2013

There’s no doubt that this class has been eye-opening for most of us, and for that I am really glad that I have learned so much! I’d have to say though that the effects of deforestation, both in the past and present, has really resonated with me and has made me much more aware of my surroundings. Here’s a clip from the 11th Hour.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8nXltMZYtM

Deforestation has played a major role in societal collapses throughout history and if we are not careful, it will continue to devastate the developing nations that are dependent on trees for environmental and economic survival.Haiti in particular is a special case of how damaging nearly complete deforestation can be on a civilization. Diamond wrote that once Haiti became independent, a long line of corruption, government structure, and seclusion from the rest of the world, along with environmental degradation caused Haiti to become very impoverished (Diamond 2005).

Border of Haiti and the D.R.- National Geographic

Border of Haiti (left) and the D.R. (right)- National Geographic

This picture shows the borderline between Haiti and the Dominican Republic in 2009. The destruction from a mass logging economy in Haiti’s past has resulted in desertification to the point that the trees will probably never grow back. The people of this deprived nation are constantly struggling to provide for themselves with the poor climate conditions, degraded soil, and lack of resources. Haiti is evidence that saving trees is a much bigger issue than simply appeasing “tree-huggers”.

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By taking Global Environmental Issues and Solutions, I have become even more aware and respectful for the protection o this Earth to which we all rely. I have to admit there were some days that I felt like we were doomed as a civiliation. It’s hard to hear about all the damage we have caused in attempt to manage these luxurious lifestyles while people in developing countries around the world struggle to survive. Is it really that difficult to unplug electronics or reduce how much water we use in a day?! I don’t think so, especially since there are placed like Haiti where the people are so impoverished. But there is hope that we, as a nation of people, can stand up and reduce our impact on this Earth. By following a green lifestyle and being conscious of the fact that WE are determining the future of this planet for generations to come will help reverse the impacts that have already happened. By taking this class I feel more than ever that I can make a difference in the health of the environment, and I know I’ll carry this knowledge from now on.

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Activity Blog

April 27, 2013

For my extracurricular activity this semester, I went to the talk and discussion by Tom Jackman, a reporter are the Washington Post, about Dr. Michael Mann and the investigation on his climate research that is ongoing. Jackman started by claiming that he believes in open government agencies, but that he was strictly displaying facts and not opinions…but we’ll get back to that in a bit. Dr. Michael Mann is a climate scientist at Penn State, but from 1999 to 2005 was doing research that the University of Virginia. Since then the research project has been closed, but the American Tradition Institute (ATI) has requested that Dr. Mann releases the nearly 12.000 emails that were made during his research to the public. The former EPA lawyer now representing ATI David Schnare said that “while research was in process, the creative process should be protected. But once the research is published, the public should be entitled to see the process and data behind it” (Jackman 2012). This is a pretty legitimate point to make being that tax payers were technically funding his research and therefore have a right to know all aspects of the project now that is has concluded.

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Dr. Michael Mann

 

This proposes a problem however because the protection of academic freedom is at risk. Dr. Mann states that his emails were not made with the intention to be public but were strictly conversations between scientists and therefore should remain private. If what seemed to be private conversation was forced to be displayed to the public then a climate of fear among all scientists conducting research will be put in place and far less scientific risks for the sack of bettering society will happen. Tom Jackman stated during the talk that the ultimate goal of ATI in investigating these emails is to be able to find errors in his logs and emails that could eventually disprove his work as a scientist and eventually disprove global warming all together.

Recent Global Climate Change Data

Recent Global Climate Change Data from Dailyclimate.org

I found this case to be very interesting because I can understand both sides of the case. On one hand, the public deserves to know what their tax dollars are being used for, but on the other scientists need to feel free to take risks and possibly make mistakes without fear of being disproven. Because these emails were created under the notion that they were private, I believe the Supreme Court should rule that Dr. Mann should not have to give then to ATI and the freedom of the academic process should be upheld. Here is Tom Jackman’s article about the lawsuit. Hopefully the Supreme Court stays in favor with Dr. Mann and the academic process remains protected.

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Anthropogenic Hazards on the Coral Reefs

April 14, 2013

The past few weeks of class we have touched on how fragile the coral reefs of the world are and how necessary it is to protect them before it is too late. These ecosystems cover about one percent of the world but are a habitat for a vast amount of different aquatic species. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “Experts predict that if current pressures are allowed to continue unabated, 60 percent of the world’s coral reefs may die completely by 2050” (NOAA 2012). This coral destruction is due to many factors, natural and human-oriented, but this blog is going to specifically talk about destructive fishing techniques that are harming the coral reefs.

Blast-fishing is a fishing technique used mostly in developing nations because it is effective in stunning the fish via dynamite explosives for easier capture. The stress brought on by this type of fishing leads the coral to expel the symbiotic algae, a process called bleaching, and could possibly die. Another illegal fishing practice that is still used in these nations is cyanide fishing, which also stuns the fish allowing them to be caught alive more easily. Both of these practices are illegal, but it is obvious that more enforcement should be put into place to prevent these fishermen from destroying the coral reefs. You can see an example of blast-fishing in this video, as well as cyanide fishing here. The last fishing technique that is hurting the coral reefs is deep-water trawling. This is especially concerning because the huge nets that are used to catch a massive quality of fish end up disturbing the reefs by leaving debris and ripping out the coral (NOAA 2012). Here’s a picture of a coral that has been exposed to bleaching.

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The reason why I wanted to bring up these specific coral reef hazards is because I think that they should be and potentially could be the fastest ones to be stopped, along with preventing tourism issues, in order to preserve this ecosystem. If we don’t protect the environment from which we depend on, then how are we going to manage once they’re gone?

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Pictures found –> Here!

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